The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 16, 2014

Alabama unemployment rises to 6.9 percent

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's unemployment rate has risen for the third month, and Alabama is the only state with a higher rate now than a year ago.

State Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees said Friday that April's rate of 6.9 percent is up from 6.7 percent in March. That's higher than the rate a year ago of 6.5 percent.

Alabama's unemployment rate measured 6.1 percent in December and January. Then it increased to 6.4 percent in February.

April's rate represents 147,342 people looking for work. That compares to 144,447 in March and 139,322 a year ago.

Alabama's unemployment had been running below the national rate, but it tied the national rate in March at 6.7 percent and then exceeded the national rate of 6.3 percent for April.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that 47 states had lower unemployment rates than a year ago, while Alaska and Missouri had the same rates. Alabama was the only state with a higher rate.

Surtees said the seasonal adjustment to the statewide data played a role. He said the state data did not meet seasonal expectations, even though only one Alabama county showed an increase in unemployment. The county numbers are not seasonally adjusted, while the state number is.

Both the seasonally adjusted figures and the non-seasonally adjusted data for April show that Alabama's civilian labor force and the number of Alabamians employed were smaller than April 2013, and the number of Alabamians looking for work was larger.

Over the past year, Alabama has seen employment gains in the leisure and hospitality industry, the education and health services sector, and the trade, transportation and utilities sector. Declines have occurred in government jobs, construction and mining.

For April, the counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby at 4.2 percent, Lee at 4.9 percent and Cullman at 5.1 percent. Counties with the highest rates were Wilcox at 15.5 percent, Greene at 12.7 percent and Perry at 11.9 percent.

Among Alabama's neighboring states, Florida reported 6.2 percent unemployment, Tennessee 6.3 percent, Georgia 7 percent and Mississippi 7.5 percent.

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